It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to celebrate 250 years of business and, in doing so, join the exclusive and prestigious club of storied British brands and artisans that we’ve long harboured a deep admiration for, for instance, Johnstons of Elgin, Floris, and Sunspel. Having been founded in 1773, there’s no question that this year is the most noteworthy one in the Christys’ London chronicle; one that we’ve been looking forward to for some time and have been working towards creating hats that are truly special and befitting of the milestone.
As some of you would have noticed, over the course of the summer, we released the first collection of celebratory creations: a pair of High-Grade 250th-anniversary Panama hats, available for both gentlemen and ladies, that provide both timeless elegance and shielding protection on a hot summer’s day.
With the impending arrival of autumn and its charming symphony of colours, we continue our celebrations by presenting what can only be described as the most luxurious expression of a Trilby hat we’ve ever created. As a nod to the top hats made by Christys’ in the formative years of the company, which had a cream-like lining, the 250th anniversary Canterbury Trilby is crafted from a similarly toned, putty-like beaver felt of superfine quality. Immensely versatile and easy-to-wear it’s accented with a chocolate brown band in our workshop in Oxfordshire, England, and we’re extremely pleased with how it’s turned out.
The Trilby hat has an interesting history. Legend has it that the name comes from the writer George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby, in which a hat of that style was worn by the lead actress in the first London production of the play. Since London reigned as the epicentre of fashion and refinement in the late 19th century, this nomenclature resonates, and the Trilby swiftly assumed its place alongside the Fedora, its slightly larger counterpart, as a must-have hat for society’s most stylish men. Up until the 1970s, the Trilby enjoyed much success in popular culture, favoured by the likes of Frank Sinatra, his Rat Pack and slick, jazz-playing contemporaries, and even James Bond, which only further underlines its timeless credentials.
Distinguished by its soft, pinched crown with teardrop indent, Trilbies feature a relatively narrow brim. In the case of our 250th-anniversary Canterbury trilby, the brim is 5.75cm, whilst the crown height is 18cm. Its narrower width renders it a more versatile look than the Fedora – it’s not as striking and therefore less obvious – while the graceful tear-drop crown shape imparts an elegant and lean profile, making it a sophisticated choice for any occasion.
The 250th Canterbury Trilby is crafted using beaver felt procured from Fepsa in Portugal, an industry leader known not only for its expertise in felt production but also for its commitment to sustainable practices. The performance benefits of beaver, as opposed to rabbit or wool, is that it’s considerably more durable and resilient, meaning it retains its shape well. In addition, it outperforms wool and rabbit in the water-resistant, insulation and weight departments, whilst the handle is supreme, too. Overall, there is no better material to wear a felted hat from.
While modern machinery certainly has its advantages, there’s an undeniable charm to the vintage Victorian-era machines that grace our workshop in Witney. These time-honoured relics of what many see as belonging to a bygone era have been meticulously fine-tuned over countless hours of dedicated craftsmanship, ensuring precision and perfection in every step of the process.
From delicately pulling and stretching the beaver felt hoods while dousing them in a cloud of steam to help shape them, to the pressure of the bladder press that moulds the crown of each felt hat, every machine requires the touch of skilled artisans who possess deft and experienced hands.
To achieve a consistent texture, various grades of sandpaper are employed, while the brim is trimmed to a precise millimetre and its curve shaped to perfection by the discerning eye of our craftspeople. The felt itself undergoes a bespoke-like treatment, meticulously ironed by hand, then carefully waxed and brushed to achieve a lustrous finish that exudes opulence. As a final flourish, we add the finishing touches by hand, such as sewing in the sweatband and adorning the exterior with a grosgrain ribbon and pin.
Our 250th-anniversary Trilby is crafted with this unwavering dedication to detail, a testament to centuries of tradition. Each one arrives elegantly presented in our iconic red Christys’ box, a symbol of distinction known the world over. Produced in limited quantities, we urge you to act swiftly, for this exceptional piece of craftsmanship is available only while our exclusive stock lasts.
Iconic Hats Since 1773